LOCAL businesses and residents have responded generously to the Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook shire councils and Upper Hunter Community Services' Our Shout This Christmas campaign.
A total of $106,000 has been raised, which means 106 drought-impacted families will each receive a $1000 We Live Here gift card to spend over the festive period.
Delivery of the cards and other gifts began last week.
Individuals and families have dug deep to support the initiative with one quarter of the amount coming through the online donation facility.
Other generous contributors included Morgan's Scone, Scone RSL, Aberdeen Treasures, Thiess, Bengalla, Muswellbrook Race Club, DK Heavy Plant Services, Lake Macquarie Council and staff, Muswellbrook Shire Council and Upper Hunter Shire Council councillors and staff.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood said the fundraising campaign came about after many enquiries from businesses, groups and individuals indicating they wished to help regional areas suffering from the drought through one of the most financially and emotionally challenging times of the year.
"We are delighted with the response from everyone who came on board to donate and 'shout' a family this Christmas," he said.
Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush also supported the campaign.
"The response to Our Shout this Christmas has been heartening given the difficulties the region is experiencing with bushfires on top of the drought," he added.
"Not only is it supporting drought-impacted families over Christmas but keeping expenditure local and supporting our rural businesses who are also suffering."
Upper Hunter Community Services manager Mel Atkinson said UHCS, who coordinated the fundraising and distribution in conjunction with local charitable organisations, began to distribute the donated funds through $1000 We Live Here gift cards.
"It is an absolutely humbling experience and a privilege to meet and talk to such amazing people in the Upper Hunter," she explained.
"One outcome we can already see happening is the link for people to our services.
"The gift bags look amazing and emotions have been quite raw when people have read the heartfelt messages of support included with the donations."
Our Shout this Christmas built on the We LIVE Here program launched in November 2018.
The cards are accepted at more than 200 businesses in Aberdeen, Denman, Gundy, Jerrys Plains, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Sandy Hollow, Scone and Wingen.
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